Ah, fall: The time of year we all break out our sweaters and everything suddenly tastes like pumpkin. As the weather gets cooler and the food becomes richer, the best wines for the evening (or afternoon if it’s that kind of day) changes as well.
Here are some wines that are perfect for this season, along with a fun fact you can use to impress your friends and acquaintances. (Disclaimer: fun fact may or may not actually impress anyone. Show off at your own risk.)
This white wine is a great choice for fall because it has a spiciness that will remind you of autumn baking. It’s not exactly the pumpkin-spice latte of wines, but it still has that autumnal feel. It’s made of grapes that are native to Northern Rhone, a region in France, and has notes of jasmine and orange blossom.
Like most white wines, viognier pairs well with chicken and fish. It also really brings fruit to life, so it’s a great option for sipping while chowing down on the apples you picked too many of at the orchard.
Impress your friends: “Although viognier grapes are native to France, today the majority are actually grown in the U.S.”
If you’re anything like me, you already know and love riesling. I’ll take a wine that basically tastes like grape juice any day of the week, but Alsatian riesling isn’t the sweet drink you might be expecting. This wine has been fermented to the point of dryness. Still, it’s got the character of German riesling, even if it skips the sugariness: You should expect aromas of honey, apricot and ginger.
Alsatian riesling is the perfect match for fall foods like turkey and squash, which makes it one of the best wines to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner.
Impress your friends: “A great Alsatian riesling should have a good balance between acidity and its fruity tones.”
This red will wow you the instant you open it: It smells just like roses. It’s got a startlingly pleasant aroma and an acidic, earthy flavor that will make you feel connected to the harvest.
You can pair this wine with basically anything, but it’s a particularly good match for mushrooms. The earthiness of mushrooms will be reflected in the nebbiolo, making both shine. It’s also a great match for heavy red meats like steak.
Impress your friends: “‘Nebbiolo’ comes from the Italian word, ‘nebbia,’ which means ‘morning fog.”
Merlot is one of the most popular types of wines all year around, but fall is when it really stands out. Go for cool-climate merlot (from France, Italy or Chile) to really tap into the autumn characteristics of this red wine. Merlot made in cooler climates has mineral notes that balance beautifully against the fruitiness of the wine.
Because merlot is very middle-of-the-road as far as reds are concerned, it pairs well with a wide variety of foods. Merlot’s flavor complements both white and red meat, although it will bring out different characteristics in each. Merlot does not match well with fish, however, and spicy foods will probably overwhelm it.
Impress your friends: “Merlot is very sensitive to light, and will develop an orange tint along the rim of the bottle after prolonged light exposure.”
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